How Prolonged Screen Time Can Affect Your Health

Prolonged Screen TimeLiving in the 21st Century has a lot of benefits. We live in a world with modern medicine, modern transportation, and the most advanced technology the world has seen. However, like most benefits, there are hindrances that accompany them.

Thanks to modern medicine we can prevent the spread of dangerous diseases, but we can also choose to not vaccinate our children and risk disease spreading rapidly. With the help of modern transportation, we are able to travel from place to place faster than ever before, but we pollute the planet and harm the environment through most of these modes. And, while technology has brought the entire world closer together, it is also in front of us through one screen or another throughout most of our days. This is especially true when you work in the IT sector and subject yourself to prolonged screen time. It is important to know how prolonged screen time can affect your health and how to prevent further damage.

Before the mass marketing of in-home computers, most people did not spend a lot of time in front of technology. Besides the occasional time spent watching television, at a safe distance from the television itself, people were not subjected to technology like they are today. In the last 30 years, the rise of the digital age has put screens in front of more people for longer amounts of time. Throughout the last decade, studies surrounding how prolonged screen time can affect your health have started to appear.

Multiple studies around screen time discuss the effects that prolonged screen time has on children, teens, and adults. Children can suffer from learning and problem-solving delays when exposed to excessive screen time under the age of 30 months. Too much screen time has also proven to affect children’s language skills, emotional development, sleep schedule, and vision. Teens suffer from a lot of the same effects. However, screen time can also affect a teenager’s self-confidence, social skills, and emotions drastically.

So, how does prolonged screen time affect the health of adults? The answer is — in many ways. Adults who work in the IT sector undoubtedly subject themselves to the most amount of screen time among professions. Anywhere from 8-10 hours of time spent working in front of a screen is only part of it, too. The hours these same adults spend at home on their phones, personal computers, or watching television also factor into how screen time affects their health.

4 Ways Prolonged Screen Time Affects Adults’ Health

1. Vision

Vision is the first thing that people most often think of when contemplating how screen time affects your health. This may be because it is obvious that your eyes will be affected by continuous exposure to light. Or it may be because most people start to feel the negative effects of prolonged screen time in their eyes first. The most common symptoms of the effects prolonged screen time has on vision include fatigue, blurred vision, eye dryness, and headache.

2. Sleep

Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep are two additional ways that prolonged screen times can affect your health. The screens themselves stimulate the brain which makes relaxing and falling into a restful sleep hard. This is especially true for those who use their phone in bed at night and turn them off right before they go to sleep. The blue light that radiates from a phone’s screen has been proven to suppress the hormone, melatonin, that promotes sleep. This, in turn, prevents those who use their phones soon before going to bed from falling into a restful sleep and cycling through REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

3. Weight

Numerous studies in the past have linked as few as two hours of television a day to an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes in adults. While there aren’t many studies that find the same direct correlations between screen time and these risk factors, it is safe to assume there are correlations. They may not be as prevalent because a lot of people are active while on their phones, but prolonged screen time does lead to less time being active and less sleep. These are both factors that contribute to weight gain and weight-related diseases. In addition, prolonged screen time makes people more susceptible to advertisements for unhealthy foods. This exposure leads to unhealthy cravings and eating habits resulting in weight gain, as well.

4. Posture

Proper posture can be hard enough to maintain without prolonged time in front of a computer or excessive phone use. Spending a lot of time in front of a touch device can result in neck and shoulder pain which can lead to scoliosis. Touch devices also have adverse effects on the hands and can cause early-onset carpal tunnel. What a lot of people don’t know is how computer keyboards, mice, and screen heights can also negatively affect posture. Excessive use of keyboards and mice can lead to inflammation in the arms, hands, and wrists. Viewing computer screens that are not at eye level can cause neck pain and issues with proper posture.

While prolonged screen time cannot be prevented for those working in the IT sector, those who do spend a lot of time in front a computer screen can modify their work environment to not be as harmful to their health. Blue light glasses are becoming more popular, especially among younger IT workers, and for good reason. They block the harmful blue light that comes out of screens and causes both vision trouble and disrupted sleep. Altering the height of your computer screens, so they are eye level, can help prevent posture problems from developing.

Being mindful of how often you are on your phone or in front of a computer is the first step. Learning how prolonged screen time can affect your health is the second step to prevention. Overall, taking breaks from your screen usage is the best way to prevent health issues from arising. Experts recommend for every hour you spend looking at a screen, you spend 15 minutes away from a screen. By taking walks during those 15-minute breaks, you can prevent weight gain, eye strain, posture trouble, and more.

There are some situations where prolonged screen time is unavoidable. So, it is important to balance screen time with non-screen time. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending in front of screens and how your body is reacting. With the right measures, you can continue your IT-based job and not suffer from health issues that can arise from too much exposure to technology.

What to Look For In a Nearshore Development Partnership

More and more throughout the United States, development work for web-based companies is moving out of the country. The reason that a company decides to look for offshore or nearshore developers is different from situation to situation. Some reasons for looking into nearshore outsourcing can include budget restrictions preventing the company from expanding in-house or office spacing being too limited to hire additional in-house developers. Regardless of the reason that a company decides to enter a nearshore development partnership, there are things to look for in the hired team.

Location

One of the main motivators behind web-based companies using nearshore outsourcing for development work is the fact that nearshore developers are usually in the same time zone as the company. If they aren’t in the same time zone, they are in a time zone with operating hours more similar to the company’s. This has a lot of benefits in regards to communication than working an outsourcing company located in India or another country on the opposite side of the world. Nearshore development partnerships are often established for this reason.

By operating in the same, or similar, business hours companies enjoy the benefit of being able to discuss problems in real time with their development counterparts. Being able to quickly address and resolve development issues results in faster turnaround times and happier clientele. When looking for a nearshore development partnership, consider the time zone potential teams are in and how that will affect your business.

Communication

When considering nearshore development companies to partner with, it is also important to consider if there will be a language barrier. While most nearshore development companies employ people who speak fluent English, some do not. Clear communication is a huge part of a successful partnership and a necessity for getting development work done quickly and correctly. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively will also affect how the business operates between the onshore employees and their counterparts. Without an open line of communication, it doesn’t really matter whether the nearshore development team is operating in the same hours as the onshore company or not. If the two teams cannot work together without a language barrier then the IT project will ultimately end up failing.

Quality

Companies searching for a nearshore development team to partner with should also assess the quality of the development team’s work. Does the team you’re considering partnering with have a portfolio of previous work they’ve done? Can they offer you statistics on how many projects they’ve successfully completed? It’s difficult to forge a successful partnership with so many miles between locations. Therefore, it is important that the team you choose for a nearshore development partnership is a strong one. Companies should trust their developers to complete projects on time and turn around workloads in a timely manner. There is nothing wrong with asking for statistics on project completions, turnaround times, and more. High quality work from a nearshore development team will be pertinent to your success as a company. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of the quality of a company’s work.

Turnover

In a recent study, the 7th Annual Conference on Information Science, Technology, and Management revealed that the turnover rate of software developers in India falls between 30 and 40 percent. In comparison, the turnover rate of Americans in the IT industry sits at 13.2%. By choosing to forge a nearshore development partnership, your entering into an IT sector with a substantially lower turnover rate. This, in turn, opens up opportunities to work with the same development team over multiple projects. Familiarity with how a team member communicates, delivers work, and executes tasks only improves project turnaround time. It also improves the business relationship, in general. Being able to establish a long-term business connection is one of the biggest benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

Deciding to enter a nearshore development partnership has its benefits and its risks. Thankfully, we feel like the benefits highly outweigh the risks. No matter how perfect a situation may seem, you will want to look at some specific metrics. If you are thinking about hiring nearshore developers to outsource some of the work at your company, be sure to ask these 12 questions before you hire anyone. For more information on outsourcing benefits, visit our blog archive to read countless articles on the benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

At Number8, we pair onshore businesses with a dynamic nearshore development team that will effectively get complete development work. Our entire team of nearshore software developers are based in  San Jose, Costa Rica. They are fully trained in agile product development and will produce the solutions your company needs to succeed. Interested in learning more? You can learn more about what we do on our website or call us at (502) 890-7665 today!

 

5 Programming Languages for Beginners

There are so many programming languages in the tech industry, that for the average layman it can be overwhelming. Generally speaking, these languages are how we communicate tasks to a computer. They’re a tool to help computers quickly and efficiently process data no matter how large or complex it may be.

As technology evolves, so do it’s languages. Whether you’re looking for someone who can code or are interested in learning yourself, starting with a basic understanding of the languages used to code is important in order to stay up to date with most relevant methods of programming. 

For beginners, it’s best to focus on languages that inherently teach basic computer science concepts. Languages that are dynamic and don’t have any strict rules on how they have to be written tend to be the most suitable for those just beginning to dip their toes into the world of coding. 

Here to help you get started, are 5 programming languages we recommend for beginners:

1. HTML

While HTML is considered the most basic and commonly known language, everyone has to start somewhere. Used to create web pages, HTML is a markup language that defines the structure and layout of various electronic documents. For example, when formatting the content on a website or email, HTML is utilized to ensure that both the text and graphics are displayed correctly. 

2. Python

Perhaps the most popular introductory language, Python is object oriented and used to integrate systems or automate tasks. Known for it’s easy to learn syntax and flexible semantics, Python is a good beginners language because it focuses on readability. It’s a script language that reads like English. With Python, programming is often more manageable because fewer lines of coding are required. 

3. Ruby

Ruby is also an easy to read general purpose scripting language and therefore similar to Python. It features a web application framework called Ruby on Rails that provides some shortcuts. While Ruby is more flexible when compared to Python, it is also less direct and explicit in it’s approach. 

4. JavaScript

JavaScript is a fully compatible scripting language and as such is already built into most web browsers. It’s used to create dynamic and interactive web pages for a more user friendly experience by translating static elements into animations.  JavaScript code also helps load new content without having to reload the entire page and is run on only a browser.

5. Java

Java gets it’s syntax fro C and C++. (While these are more difficult to learn, they do impact most programming languages and as such are also a good way to place to start in order to grasp the basic concepts of multiple coding languages.) Java has it’s own platform and is known for it’s ability to run in any virtual machine or browser. It’s a standalone programming language, and is statically typed; meaning it has more structure than the others listed above and needs to be compiled before it can be executed.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

The Most Exciting & Innovative Tech Projects of 2019

With recent advancements in artificial intelligence, cutting edge security threats and more devices than ever connected to the Internet, 2018 proved to be a memorable year for the tech industry. Wondering what 2019 will bring?

Here are our top picks for the most exciting tech projects set to debut this year, featuring a few notable head turners from the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES):

The First Flying Car

Tech has certainly had it’s way with transportation as of late. Even among the reinvention of scooters, Ubers, bullet trains and electric planes, self driving cars have no doubt grabbed the headlines. That is, until now. Terrafugia has combined the features of an automobile and aircraft in it’s latest flying car dubbed the Transition. All of our childhood visions will become a reality when the vehicle comes to market this year. 

A Portable Solar Charger

Thought solar panels were just for your roof? Though still in it’s Kickstarter days, SolarCru’s foldable solar panels intend to have us all re-imagining what we think we know about eco-friendly energy sources. This revolutionary device is slated to offer an outdoor charging option and is compatible with a range of devices. 

Powered Exoskeletons

Samsung’s lower body exoskeleton made a splash at this year’s CES. The wearable device known as the Gait Enhancing Motivational System is intended to help in the rehabilitation process and can even provide a gentle boost during a workout by adding resistance or allowing it’s wearer to walk with less effort. Because if we can’t beat the robots, we mine as well become them.

Flexible Mannequins

The one size fits all mannequin may be in the past thanks to a start up called Euveka who’s mannequins are able to be reshaped in a matter of seconds. Whether it’s liquid or air pressure driven, this feat of genius will help showcase a multitude of body types and allow designers to scale up or down their designs to fit truly everyone. 

In House Concerts

Sony’s latest concept, 360 reality audio is working to incorporate a spatial dimension so that when songs are played through Sony’s new speaker, they will sound like they are being performed live. The company also intends to bring this new level of sound to other speaker systems, headphones and even streaming services.

Musical Coding

Sphero’s Specdrums aim to teach kids to code through music. The “app-enabled rings allow children to create and play music by using colors on a variety of surfaces as their instruments.” This tactile way of turning color into sound is groundbreaking in it’s ability to infer problem-solving skills that are necessary in the world of coding. 

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

 

IT Job Prospects in 2019 and Beyond

As we kick start the New Year, many of us are looking to see how we can adapt and evolve our current skill set to better fit the future job market. Innovations like the cloud and artificial intelligence are transforming business operations as we know it and when it comes to careers in software and information technology in general, job opportunities are growing at a pace unmatched in other industries.

If you’re on the hunt for a new prospect, here are a few of the jobs and career sectors in tech that we anticipate to be the most in demand in 2019.

Business Intelligence Analysts & Data Scientists

Data is king and companies are now collecting it more than ever before. However, in order to best utilize the data that is being gathered, business’s of all kinds will need someone who is able to understand and see the patterns within it. Business intelligence analysts and or data scientists help process data and communicate trends to stakeholders in order to keep up with competitors, as well as grow and cut costs. These personnel typically bring to the table experience in analytics and reporting.

Security Specialists

While careers in security are certainly not a new addition to the job market, they remain an important component in software and IT.  From new finger and eye scanning procedures to the development of drones, security professionals are tasked with protecting customer data and company assets from sophisticated attacks and threats. As technology is implemented at every level of daily activities, it’s crucial that companies make doing business safe and transparent. Those looking to grow in the field of cyber-security must be knowledgeable of current compliance laws and regulations.

Developers & Engineers

Advancements in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, augmented and virtual reality as well as robotics and automation are vastly reshaping the job market in many industries. While most fear a loss of jobs looming, the integration of these applications makes way for more developers and engineers. From the Internet of Things to 3D printing of artificial limbs, there are a wide range of career possibilities available to those with a deep understanding of machine learning and complex algorithms.

Cloud Architects & Engineers

As more companies transition to storing and accessing files online, managing the cloud and hybrid systems alike are becoming a prominent responsibility in doing business. Cloud architects and engineers are in charge of developing, maintaining and supporting IT cloud systems and therefore need a wealth of programming and security skills.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in agile product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

Why Mistakes are an Important Part of the Creative Process Even in Tech

Those in the Information Technology field know that software development doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s collaborative and often times risks need to be taken in order to achieve any level of innovation. With risks come mistakes and projects that don’t always pan out as planned.

However, IT teams that follow the agile methodology tend to be familiar with the ideology that mistakes are an important part of the creative process. The agile way of developing tech is adaptive in that it is designed around embracing feedback and learning opportunities.

As Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Here’s why you shouldn’t let the fear of making a mistake keep you or your team in your comfort zone:

Mistakes let us know what doesn’t work and paves the path for what could.  

When it comes to developing something new or going into uncharted territory, mistakes are bound to happen. But with experimentation comes discovering a new way of doing something and that is almost always value added. By pivoting and testing new ideas, one is better able to evaluate and refine a product or idea and then learn from it. 

It’s not the mistake that defines an employee, but how they rebound from it.

If mistakes are inevitable, a team should know how to handle them. Take the stigma out of it, and you’ll find that enabling a team to make mistakes means also giving them the opportunity to problem solve effectively. Employees who take accountability for their mistakes and are able to learn from them are a valuable asset to any company. Instead of creating a culture of fear where one tends to get defensive if a mistake is made, establish one where everyone feels empowered enough to innovate and safeguard for the future.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

6 Reasons Why Agile Software Development Will Remain Relevant for the Foreseeable Future

Every development methodology has its pros and cons. Depending on the size and culture of a company, the structure and plan best used to oversee the process of developing a system can vary. However, it seems that as of late, the Agile Methodology is winning out as the best way of managing a both a company and software development team’s resources. 

Here are 6 reasons why Agile software development will continue to remain relevant, perhaps even as a management approach within other industries.

  1. It’s Collaborative

    The Agile method runs around daily meetings or “scrums” that cultivate accountability and teamwork. During any given scrum, each team member shares their accomplishments from the last work day, announces what they are currently working on, and mentions any possible impediments to progress for the team to help them problem solve. These meetings keep everyone on schedule, and create a cohesive atmosphere where each person is able to work cross-functionally and continuously learn from one another.  

  2. It Offers Flexibility 

    Setbacks are common when it comes to software development. The Agile methodology’s time frame offers flexibility in that it builds in time for future corrections. By embracing the ideology from the start that not everything is going to go to plan, Agile prevents errors from halting a development project by making time for them. 

  3. It Promotes Efficiency 

    With this flexibility comes a sense of urgency because of the level of communication that exists within Agile. Problems are tended to efficiency because of the cyclical like feedback and level of interaction between all team members. The speed at which corrections are made is key in that they save time and resources; allowing a company to stay within budget.  

  4. It’s Adaptive

    As it’s adaptive in nature, Agile welcomes changes in requirements and feedback. This way of thinking is value adding as it encourages innovation and risk taking at every stage of the process. 

  5. It Tests for Quality

    The focus of agile is test driven. Software is developed in a way that continuously tests for quality. Problems are identified early on in order to achieve the best possible end product.  

  6. It Offers Transparency

    Agile is inherently transparent. Therefore, stakeholders and product owners can ensure a proper return on their investment. Additionally, the customer, developer and project manager remain on the same page and achieve a desired level of communication. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

 

Meetings At Work – 4 Reasons Why They Are Useful

When it comes to meetings at work, they can either be really informative or drag on past the point of productivity. For those in the IT world who have embraced the Agile methodology, meetings are a daily occurrence called “scrums.” Development teams lead these gatherings to regroup and give status reports concerning their specific projects. Additionally, even when working with remote workers, it can prove beneficial to touch base with them face to face via a video conference, as things can be misconstrued in other formats like email and chat. 

No matter what industry you’re in though, meetings are an essential part of business. In fact, if done right, they can propel a company toward success. 

Just in case you’re not sold, here are 4 reasons why meetings are useful in the workplace: 

The Power of Brainstorming 

Sometimes it takes meeting with your team to get a new perspective on a project or problem. Collaborating collectively allows for new ideas to be shared in a safe and confidential space. Innovation is best nurtured when everyone feels they are heard and have been given the opportunity to contribute.  

Providing Information 

Meetings are perhaps most often used for providing information and dispersing tasks. If structured properly, they don’t have to be the drudge most employees have come to know and fear. These kinds of meetings work best if there is a clear agenda and a leader who is not afraid to interrupt and push forward. To some extent, everyone should be given the opportunity to speak. This is a great time to discuss priorities, air grievances, and gather help from those less bogged down with assignments. Providing information in a meeting is constructive in that everyone is on the same page at the same time.

Strategic Planning 

Usually a company participates in annual strategic planning to set the course and pace for the upcoming year. Planning strategically can be helpful in setting goals and motivating your team to seek action based results. Doing so can also ensure everyone is kept accountable throughout the year. Additionally, meeting within this context gives leadership the opportunity to recognize potential in members who may be interested in taking on more responsibility or growing their role within the business. 

Re-centering

Without meeting from time to time, a company’s policies have a way of falling through the cracks. Convening from time to time just to give everyone feedback and have a general review of the proper procedures can be immensely helpful in keeping a growing business on track. Not to mention it helps to rustle everyone up and out of their respective nooks and show some appreciation for a job well done. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.